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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 12, no. 61 (October 29, 2004).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c October 29, 2004
Support gap : new teachers early experiences in high-income and low-income schools / Susan Moore Johnson, Susan M. Kardos, David Kauffman, Edward Liu [and] Morgaen L. Donaldson.
Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
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EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES A peer-reviewed scholarly journal Editor: Gene V Glass College of Education Arizona State University Copyright is retained by the first or sole auth or, who grants right of first publication to the Education Policy Analysis Archives EPAA is a project of the Ed ucation Policy Studies Laboratory. Articles are indexe d in the Directory of Open Ac cess Journals (www.doaj.org). Volume 12 Number 61 October 29, 2004 ISSN 1068-2341 The Support Gap: New TeachersÂ’ Early Experiences in High-Income and Low-Income Schools Susan Moore Johnson Harvard University Susan M. Kardos Brandeis University David Kauffman Harvard University Edward Liu Rutgers University Morgaen L. Donaldson Harvard University Citation: Johnson, S. M., Kardos, S. M., Kauffman, D., Liu, E. & Donaldson, M. L. (2004, October 29). The support gap: Ne w teachersÂ’ early experiences in highincome and low-income schools. Education Policy An alysis Archives, 12 (61). Retrieved [date] from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v12n61/. Abstract In this article, the authors consid er three sources of support for new teachersÂ—hiring practices, relationship s with colleagues, and curriculumÂ—all found in earlier research to influence new teachersÂ’ satisfaction with their work, their sense of success with stud ents, and their eventual retention in their job. They find that a Â“support gapÂ” exists: ne w teachers in low-income schools are less likely than their co unterparts in high-income schools to
Johnson et al. The Support Gap: New TeachersÂ’ Early Experiences 2 experience timely and in formation-rich hiring, to benefit from mentoring and support by experienced colleagues, and to have a curriculum that is complete and aligned with state standards, yet fl exible for use in the classroom. Such patterns of diff erence between high-income and lowincome schools warrant careful consideration because they reveal broad patterns of inequity, which can have severe consequences for low-income students. Survey data for this study were collected from random samples of teachers in five states. One survey, fo cusing on hiring practices and teachersÂ’ relationships with colleagues, was administered to 374 first-year and secondyear teachers in Florida, Massachus etts, and Michigan. A second survey, focusing on curriculum, was administer ed to 295 second-year elementary school teachers in Massachusetts, North Carolina, an d Washington. The inequitable patterns of support for teac hers reported here have important implications for the work of stat e policymakers, school district administrators, and principals. The authors describe these and offer recommendations for policy and pr actice in the conclusion. Introduction Teachers make a profound difference in childrenÂ’s learning. Recent empirical research has lent scholarly weight to this as sertion, which professional educators have long believed. Highly-skilled teachers can ra ise student achievemen t, especially the achievement of studen ts living in low-inco me communities (Ferguson, 1998; Goldhaber & Anthony, 2004; McCaffrey, Lock wood, Koretz, & Hamilton, 2003; Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2002; Sanders & Rivers, 1996; Wenglinsky, 2002Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2002). In the face of growin g consensus on the need for strong and co mmitted teachers, this article presents evidence that many schools serving large numbers of low-income students fail to provide new te achers with the support they ne ed to do their jobs well. Indeed, we find that a Â“support gapÂ” exis ts: new teachers in low-income schools receive significantly less assistance in the key areas of hiring, mentoring, and curriculum than their counterparts working in schools with highincome students. Compared to new teachers in high-i ncome schools, they are less likel y to experience a hiring process that gives them a good preview of their job, less likely to have a good match with their mentor and to have frequent and substantive in teractions with him or her, and less likely to feel that they receive appropriate curricular guidance This gap in suppo rt is cause for alarm, for previous research shows that support for new teache rs helps them feel successful in their firs t years of teaching and may fac ilitate their retention (Johnson & The Project on the Ne xt Generation of Teachers, 2004;Johnson & Birkeland, 2003; Kardos, Johnson, Peske, Kauffman, & Liu, 2001; Kauffman, Johnson, Kardos, Liu, & Peske, 2002; Smith & Ingersoll, 2003). Thus, because they offer significantly less support to new teachers, the schools that demonstrate the most ac ute need for skilled teachers are, by our estimation, least likely to suc ceed in attracting and retaining them. The findings presented he re on the existence of a new teacher support gap reinforce other research on the inequities between high-income an d low-income schools in teacher quality and attritio n rates. Researchers studying the student achievement gap have also found that schools serving students from low-income communities tend to
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 61 3 employ teachers who, when compared to t hose who work in high-income schools, are less qualified on a number of measures. Scho ols with high concentrations of low-income students have higher percenta ges of new teachers (Ingersoll, 2002), higher proportions of uncertified teachers (Ing ersoll, 2002; Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2002), and higher percentages of teache rs working outside their subjec t area (Ingersoll, 2002; Neild, Useem, Travers, & Lesnick, 2003; Useem, 2003). Teachers in such schools also, on average, score lower on vari ous standardized tests (Lankf ord et al., 2002), and have graduated from less competitive colleges (Lankford et al., 2002). In addition to employing a less-qualified teaching force, low-income schools also suffer higher rates of teacher attrition and mobility than their high-income counterparts (Hanushek, Kain, & Rivkin, 2004; Ingersoll, 2002). Inge rsoll (2001) studied annual turnover ratesÂ—the combined effect of teache rs leaving the profession and transferring to new schoolsÂ—and found them to be higher in low-inco me districts than in highincome districts (15.2 percen t versus 10.5 percent). In 200 3, Smith and Ingersoll (2003) confirmed the soaring turnover rate that schoolsÂ—particularly those in low-income urban and rural communitiesÂ— were experiencing. Moreover, when teachers exit lowincome schools but stay in teaching, they te nd to move to schools serving higher-income students (Hanushek et al., 20 04; Lankford et al., 2002). Al though some attrition is certainly desirable, chronic turnover such as that experienced by many low-income schools can disrupt childrenÂ’s education, frag ment a schoolÂ’s instru ctional program, and waste substantial funds already invested in a teacherÂ’s professiona l development (Guin, 2004). Whether due to failed recruitment or retention, Kevin Carey (2004) of the Education Trust observes: Â“No matter wh ich study you examine, no matter which measure of teacher quality yo u use, the pattern is always the sameÂ—poor students, lowperforming students, and students of color are far more likely than other students to have teachers who are in experienced, uncertified, poorly educated, and underperforming. Many of those teac hers demonstrate most or a ll those unfortunate qualities all at the same timeÂ” (p. 8). In theory, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was meant to ensure a Â“highly qualifiedÂ” teacher for every public sc hool student, regardle ss of that studentÂ’s socio-economic status. However, dispute over the meaning of Â“highly qualifiedÂ” has been ongoing and there is little evidence to date that the law has delivered on its intent (Keller, 2004). Moreover, the authors of NC LB adopted the rather narrow strategy of regulating teachersÂ’ entering qualifications rather than investing in improving working conditions and the schoolsÂ’ capacity to hire and support new teachers on the job. Our findings suggest that this approach is shortsighted. The Importance of Supp ort for New Teachers Ensuring that all new teacher s receive intensive, on-the-job support is crucial if todayÂ’s incoming teachers are to meet the high expectations that th e U.S. public now has of teachers and schools expectations that they must help all students to learn and achieve at high levels. Our rese arch, over the past five years, has identified a number of school-based supports that new teachers need in order to se rve students effectively, feel successful in their jobs, and, ul timately, stay in teaching. In our first study, a qualitative, longitudinal study of fifty Massachusetts new teachers, we sought to understand better th e career decisions of new teachers and to
Johnson et al. The Support Gap: New TeachersÂ’ Early Experiences 4 compare the decisions of teachers working in different types of schoolsÂ—low-income and high-income, conventional and charter, urban and subu rban. We interviewed fifty respondents in 1999-2000; surveyed their career decisions at the end of that school year; conducted follow-up interviews in the summer of 2001; and surveyed them again in the summer of 2002 and the summer of 2003.1 We found that todayÂ’s new teachers en ter the profession with a tentative commitment to teaching (Peske, Liu, Johnson, Kauffman, & Kardos, 2001) and decide whether to continue teaching ba sed on the support th ey receive at the sc hool site and the success they experience with th eir students (Johnson & Birk eland, 2003; Johnson et al., 2001). As we followed the fift y new teachersÂ’ job decisions ov er four years, we found, similar to prior research, that all the teac hers who changed scho ols moved to schools serving higher wealth studen ts (Johnson & Birkeland, 2003 ). However, our interviews suggested that the new teachersÂ’ decisions to transfer rested primarily on the extent to which their original schools supported them in serving their students. To succeed with their students, these teachers indicated that they needed an information-rich hiring process that provided them wi th a good preview of their job, experienced colleagues who mentored and supported them, curriculum that was aligned with district and state standards, teaching assignments that were fair and appropriate, and schoolwide approaches to student support and discipline We found evidence of these kinds of support most consistently in the accounts of teachers working at schools serving highincome students. When such support was absent many teachers in our sample took steps to teach elsewhere or leave the profession However, a small numb er of the teachers working in schools serving lo w-income students did find the support they needed and chose to stay in those schools. Subsequently, seeking to understand whether these findings would hold in other settings, we surveyed broader, random samples of new teachers in several states to learn more about their early career experiences. He re, we draw upon data from two multi-state surveys to investigate the kind and levels of support respon dents found as they worked in low-income and high-income schools. We focus here on three kinds of support that proved to be important to teac hers in our initial qualitative study: hiring, mentoring, and curriculum. Methods The first of the two survey studies on wh ich this article is based examined new teachersÂ’ experien ces of hiring and professional cu lture (Kardos, 2004; Liu, 2004). Building on the Massachusetts qu alitative study and an explor atory quantitative study of New Jersey new teachers (Kardos, 2001; Liu, 2001), Kard os and Liu analyzed survey data collected in Florida, Ma ssachusetts, and Michigan2. These states were selected because 1 See Johnson, S.M. & The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers (2004), Finders and Keepers: Helping new teachers s urvive and thrive in our schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass for more details about the methods and findings of this study. 2 This sub-analysis is part of a larger random sample survey study that also included California. However, here we consider only Flor ida, Massachusetts, and Michigan. We omit California in this analysis because California is different from the three other states in terms of demographics and other relevant characteristics. There is potential sample bias in the
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 61 5 they are located in different regions of th e country and vary in size, yet share some important policy features. All were experienci ng a teacher shortage ; have alternative routes to certification; have ch arter school legislation; use criterion-referenced tests tied to standards-based curriculum; and engage in collective bargaining. The sample consists of 374 randomly selected firs tand second-year, K-12 publ ic school teachers (excluding arts and physical education). Kardos and Liu used two-stage stratified cluster sampling to draw the sample, with the first stage involv ing stratification by state, school level (elementary, middle, high ), and school type (charter, conventional). Seventy-four percent of the 99 schools drawn agreed to participate. Liu and Kardos then asked principals for names of all firstand second-year teacher s at these schools. Fr om the 564 teachers whose names were provided, 3 74 completed the 225-item surve ys, for a response rate of 66 percent. Sampling weights were used in anal yses to correct fo r overand undersampling and proper adjustment s were made to account for clustering and stratification effects. The second study examined new teachersÂ’ experiences with curriculum (Kauffman, 2004). Building on findings from the Massachuse tts study (Kauffman et al., 2002) and case studies of new teachersÂ’ experiences with different types of mathematics curricula (Kauffman, 2002), this survey explor ed second-year elementa ry school teachersÂ’ access to, use of, and sa tisfaction with curricu lum materials in the context of state and local curriculum and as sessment policy. The study was conducted in North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Washington because th ese states had adopted several common elements of standards-based reform, incl uding the use of state standards, the implementation of state assess ments aligned to th ose standards, and accountability for schools and teachers based on, at a minimum, publication of school-level student achievement data. The data were collecte d using a 212-item survey instrument administered through the mail to a random sample of second-year, full-time, public school elementary school (kindergarten throug h fifth grade) classr oom teachers. Of the 439 eligible teachers sampled, 295 completed su rveys, for a response ra te of 67 percent. Consistent with reports from The Ed ucation Trust, Â“Education Watch State Summaries,Â” (2003), we have defined Â“low-inc ome schoolsÂ” as those in which more than 50 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. We have defined Â“highincome schoolsÂ” as those in which less than 15 percent of students fit this description. Findings We found that, overall, ne w teachers in low-income schools experience less support in hiring, mentoring, and curricul um than those who teach in high-income schools. It seems, then, that alongside the student achievement gap there exists a comparable and troubling support gap for new teachers during th eir first critical years on the job. The existence of this support gap ma y help explain why some schools constantly fight the undertow of teacher attrition while others more easily attract and retain new staff. California subpopulation, and the possible swampi ng effect resulting from sample weights used to correct for the study design. For a more detailed discussion of the methodology and state characteristics, see (Kardos, 2004; Liu, 2004)
Johnson et al. The Support Gap: New TeachersÂ’ Early Experiences 6 Hiring On the face of it, hiring practices, which occur before a teacher begins work, may not seem to offer support. Yet, support can come to a new teacher from being well introduced and matched to he r position. Teaching jobs va ry a great deal and each presents the new teacher with a unique set of demands, challenges, and opportunities. A new teacherÂ’s effectiveness an d success in the classroom may depend not only on her general qualifications but also on the fit between her particular skills, knowledge, and dispositions and th e teaching position she has been hired to fill. Our research indicates that new teachers in low-in come schools are less likely to have supportive hiring experiences than new teacher s in high-income schools. Supportive hiring practices, those that increase the likelih ood of a good match between teacher and school, shar e several characteristics. First, they are largely schoolbased rather than district-b ased. In school-based hiring, individual schools review candidates and can, from the start, decide whether those candidates fit the requirements of a particular position and the specific needs and culture of th e school. Second, and most important, supportive hiring pr actices are information-rich (Liu, 2003) That is, they rely on an array of activities, including interviews with a wide cross-section of the school community, teaching demonstrations and observations of classes or staff meetings. Information-rich hiring processes provide both candidates and those doing the hiring with multiple opportunities to collec t information about and form impressions of one another, which facilitates the making of good matches. Thir d, supportive hiring happens early and gives new teac hers plenty of time to prepare for the challenges of assuming full-time teaching responsibilities. TeachersÂ’ ab ility to prepare for these challenges and meet them su ccessfully is compromised wh en they do not know their specific teaching assignments un til late summer or early fall. Inequities in hiring practices are found in three areas: inte rviews, observations, and the timing of hiring decisions. Interviews. Interviews are one of most intera ctive parts of the hiring process and a potentially rich source of informat ion for schools, districts, and teaching candidates. As Table 1 demonstrates, wherea s 100 percent of new teachers in highincome schools participat e in at least one interv iew as part of the hi ring process for their current position, only 82 percent of new te achers in low-income schools do. In other words, in Florida, Massachuse tts, and Michigan, almost one in five new te achers in lowincome schools are hired without an interview.
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 61 7 Table 1 Comparison of New Teachers Â’ Hiring Experiences in Highand Low-Income Schools in FL, MA, and MI (n=374) All New Teachers New teachers: High-income schools New teachers: Low-income schools Difference Interviews Participated in at least one interview for the position 89% (3.2) 100% (0.0) 82% (5.9) 18%** (5.9) Interviewed wi th school principal 85% (3.3) 94% (3.4) 80% (5.9) 15%* (6.8) Interviewed with current teacher(s) at the school 43% (5.3) 50% (9.3) 33% (9.1) 17% (13.1) Interviewed with department chair or gradelevel leader? 19% (3.1) 29% (7.2) 13% (4.9) 16%~ (8.7) Observations Was observed teaching a sample lesson 14% (3.5) 22% (8.3) 13% (5.3) 9% (9.9) Observed classes in session 19% (3.3) 10% (4.2) 27% (7.3) -17%* (8.4) Timing Hired after the school year started 22% (3.8) 8% (3.6) 28% (7.7) -20%* (8.6) All statistics take in to account the complex nature of the survey sa mple; standa rd errors are in parentheses. ~p<.10, *p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001 It is also important to consider the ra nge of individuals wi th whom teaching candidates interact during th e hiring process. Virtually a ll new teachers in high-income schools interview with their futu re principal as part of the hiring process (94 percent). A smaller percentage of new teachers in lo w-income schools, th ough still a high percentage, do so (80 percent). New teachers in high-income schools are also more likely to interview with their future colleagues. Whereas approximately one half of new teachers in high-income schools are interviewed by teachers during the hiring process, only on e third of new teachers in low-income schools are intervie wed by future colleagues. New teachers in high-income schools are also mo re likely to interview with a department chair than new teachers in low-income schools (29 percent versus 13 percent).
Johnson et al. The Support Gap: New TeachersÂ’ Early Experiences 8 Overall, it appears that new teachers in low-in come schools have fewer opportunities to learn about th eir school through interviews than do new teachers in high-income schools. They are le ss likely to meet their future colleagues, wh o might have valuable insights to share ab out the school, its students, an d its surrounding community. Also, because they typically only interview with the principal, new teachers in lowincome schools may re ceive a narrow perspect ive on the school and may not come away from the hiring process with accurate and reasonable expectations about what it will be like to work there. Observations. Observations are another inform ation-rich hiring activity. Teaching demonstrations, for instance, allo w school officials to collect information about candidatesÂ’ teaching ab ilities and potential. They and the conversations surrounding them can also convey informat ion to candidates ab out what types of teaching a school values or promotes. With observations, too, we observe some differences in the experiences of new teachers in high-income schools and those of new teachers in low-income schools. New teachers in high-income schools are almost twice as likely to be observed teaching a sample lesson as new teachers in low-income schoolsÂ—22 percent compared to 13 percent. Another type of observation involves opportunities for candidates to visit or sit in on classes at the school. In this case, prospective teachers in low-income schools have the apparent advantage, for they are more lik ely than teachers in high-income schools to observe classes and, thus, gauge what it mi ght be like to teach there. Even so, the percentage of teachers in low-income schools that do ob serve classes is still quite low (27 percent). Timing. Some of these differences in hiring experiences likely result from differences in timing. A much larger percenta ge of new teachers in low-income schools are hired late. Indeed, 28 percent of new teac hers in low-income schools are hired after the school year has already started. In contra st, only 8 percent of new teachers in highincome schools are hired that late. Late hiring results from a number of factors: delayed budget approval by th e state or district, student mobility that makes it difficult to forecast staffing needs, excessively central ized and bureaucratic personnel practices, seniority-based staffing prov isions that require additional timefor transfers and job postings, and higher rates of turnover among teachers, which increase late resignations and the openings cr eated by them. The disparities in hiring between lowincome and high-income schools raise serious concerns about equity. They suggest that studen ts in low-income schools are more likely to be taught by a new teacher who was hired late than are students in highincome schools. If they have a new teacher, she probably had less time to prepare for her job than a new teacher at a more affluent school, and she may have taken the position without a good sense of what it involved or whether it fit her skills, interests, and expertise. The new teacher may also be less qualified, since th ere is some evidence that, because of their drawn-out hiring processes, ur ban districts lose out to suburban districts in the competition for the most highly qualified teac hers and for teachers who are able to teach high-demand subjects (Levin & Quinn, 2003). Students in low-income schools may al so be taught by new teachers whose positions do not offer a good fit for their skills, knowledge, and dispositions Also, they do not experience information-ri ch hiring practices to the same extent as new teachers in high-income schools. As a result, in making the hiring decision, both the new teacher and the school may fail to gather sufficien t information to make a good match.
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 61 9 Mentoring Like positive hiring practices, mentor ing can provide critic al support for new teachers. Policymakers, teacher unions, sch ool leaders, and new teachers, themselves, tend to support mentoring programs. Research shows th at new teachers who are mentored early in their care ers are more effective teac hers (Darling-Hammond, 1999; Feiman-Nemser, 1983; Gless & Moir, ; Humphrey et al., 2000) and are likely to remain in their schools or in teaching longer (Humphrey et al., 2000; R. Ingersoll & Kralik, 2004; Smith & Ingersoll, 2003). Without the proper support, new teachers resort to Â“survival instructional strategiesÂ” (B erry, Hopkins-Thompson, & Hok e, 2002, p.4; Feiman-Nemser & Floden, 1986; Huling-Austin, 1990), which, in the long term, do not serve them or their students well (Feima n-Nemser, 1983; Gold, 1996; Mc Donald, 1980; Rosenholtz, 1989). Models of mentoring and induction programs exist (B reaux & Wong, 2003; Fideler & Haselkorn, 1999; Huling-Austin, 199 0; Stansbury & Zimmerman, 2000; Villani, 2002; Zeichner, 1979), and a composite of their successful features suggests the following: In the ideal scenar io, new teachers have mentor s who help them meet the challenges of being a beginni ng teacher (Feiman-Nemser, 1983; Feiman-Nemser, 2001; Gold, 1996; National Commission on Teachi ng and America's Futu re, 2003; Veenman, 1984) in the context of a st rong, trusting relationship (Gless & Moir, ; Gold, 1996; Villani, 2002). Mentors help novices decide what to teach and how to teach it, advising them as they choose, adapt, or create appropr iate instructional practices. Mentors help them manage classrooms and develop strateg ies for succeeding with their students. Mentors observe novices in thei r classroom, offer useful feedback, model good teaching, and share materials and ideas. In short, th e mentorÂ’s work with the new teacher is focused on the central components of teac hing: classroom instruction, curriculum and lesson planning, and classroom management. Me ntors help new teache rs acclimate to the modes of professional practice in the school and acculturate them to the particular norms of their school and th e families it serves (Kardo s et al., 2001; Villani, 2002). In our examination of the presence and na ture of mentoring, we found important differences between the experiences of new teachers in high-inc ome and low-income schools. First, new teachers in low-income sc hools have what we regard as ideal mentor matches in lower proportions. Second, these teachers have su bstantive interactions with their mentors about th e core activities of teaching in lower proportions than their counterparts in high-income schools. Presence of Mentor As Table 2 shows, 78 per cent of all new teachers in Florida, Massachusetts, and Michigan are assi gned official mentors by their schools or districts during their first year. Ninety-one pe rcent of new teache rs in high-income schools have official mentors, while only 65 percent of new teachers in low-income schools have official mentors. While this is certainly a stark differe nce and pote ntially an important one, it is possible th at the mere presence of an o fficial mentor may matter less to a new teacher than the charac teristics of that mentor or th e nature of the interactions with them Characteristics of the mentor match When we examine the characteristics of the mentor matchÂ—whether the me ntor is situated at the same school, in the same grade level, and teaching the same subject as the new teacherÂ—we see th at new teac hers in
Johnson et al. The Support Gap: New TeachersÂ’ Early Experiences 10 high-income schools share location, assignment and subject with their mentors at much higher proportions than new teachers in lo w-income schools. Alth ough 82 percent of new teachers in high-income schools have same-school ment or matches, only 53 percent Table 2 Comparison of New TeachersÂ’ Official Mentoring Experiences During the First Year in Highand Low-Income Schools in FL, MA, and MI (n=374) All New Teachers New Teachers: Highincome Schools New Teachers: Lowincome Schools Difference Presence of a Mentor Percentage of new teachers who have a mentor 78% (5.0) 91% (3.1) 65% (9.6) 26%** (10.0) Characteristics of the Mentor Match Has a mentor who is in the same school 68% (5.6) 82% (6.0) 53% (10.4) 29%* (11.9) Has a mentor who in the same grade level 44% (3.9) 61% (5.4) 28% (5.6) 33%*** (7.7) Has a mentor who is in the same subject 48% (4.7) 60% (8.1) 40% (7.6) 20%~ (11.0) Nature of Interactions Was observed at least once by a mentor 41% (5.1) 31% (6.5) 42% (8.8) -11% (11.1) Has at least thre e conversations with a mentor about classroom management and discipline 58% (5.2) 69% (6.9) 43% (9.0) 26%* (11.3) Has at least thre e conversations with a mentor about curriculum and lesson planning 58% (4.6) 69% (5.0) 47% (8.6) 22%* (10.0) Has at least thre e conversations with a mentor about classroom instruction 56% (4.8) 61% (6.7) 47% (8.8) 14% (11.0) All statistics take in to account the complex nature of the survey sa mple; standa rd errors are in parentheses. ~p<.10, *p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001 of new teachers in low-income schools do. While 61 percent of new teachers in highincome schools have same grad e level mentors, only 28 perc ent of new teachers in lowincome schools do. Finally, while 60 percent of new teachers in high-income schools have same subject mentors (also arguably lo w), only 40 percent of new teachers in lowincome schools do.
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 61 11 These large and statistically significant differences indicate real contrasts in the school-based support that new teachers in highand low-income schools experience, with important consequences for their stud ents. While having a mentor in the same grade level or subject certainl y would not guarantee an ideal match for the new teacher, it might increase the chance that the mentor and the new teacher woul d share students or have other teaching or curricular issues in common. Despite the increased chance for interaction that same-s ubject or same-level mentoring pr ovides, it is important to note that when teachersÂ’ responsibilities are no t also entwined, ther e is less chance for meaningful exchange between them. Finally, rece nt analysis of nationally representative data by Smith and Ingersoll ( 2003; see also Ingersoll and Sm ith, 2003 ) found that firstyear teachers with same-subject mentors are less likely to leave te aching or leave their schools than their colleagues without same-subject mentors. Nature of the Interaction It is important to examine the nature of the interaction between the new te acher and the mentor, and the extent to which they talk about the substantive challe nges of being a new teacher: classroom instruction, curriculum and lesson planning, and classr oom management and student discipline. When asked whether they had discussed these to pics with their ment ors on at least three occasions, larger proportions of new teachers in high-i ncome schools than in lowincome schools reported that they had. While 69 percent of new te achers in high-income sc hools had at least three conversations with their mentors about clas sroom management and discipline, only 43 percent of new teac hers in low-income scho ols did. Sixty-five percent of new teachers in high-income schools had conversations with their mentors about curriculum and lesson planning, while only 47 percent of their coun terparts in low-income schools did. Finally, sixty-one percent of new teac hers in high-income schools had conversations with their mentors about classroom instruct ion, while only 47 percent of their counterparts in lowincome schools did. Although these percentages are low for both sub-groups3, the particularly low incidence of mentor interaction for new teac hers in low-income schools is cause for concern. These individuals often have the most challenging teaching positions; yet according to these data, they are receiving th e least support from experienced colleagues whose job it is to mentor, guide, and support them. We found one exception to this pattern in these data. A larger proportion (42%) of new teachers were observed by their mentors in low-in come schools than in highincome schools (31%), although the difference is not statistically si gnificant. This is surprising, since one might expect that scho ols in low-income communities might lack the resources required to support observations and meet ings between mentors and their new teachers. On the other ha nd, just over half of thes e new teachers (53%) have a mentor in their school Given the data we co llected, it is impossi ble to know who these mentors are, whether they are well trained, how they carry out their responsibilities, and whether new teachers find their assistance valuable. However, we do know that most new teachers in low-income schools are no t appropriately matched with their mentors and that few intera ct frequently with their mentors a bout core issues of teaching and learning. 3 We believe that all new teachers, in lowand high-income schools alike, should be supported through substantive c onversations with mentors.
Johnson et al. The Support Gap: New TeachersÂ’ Early Experiences 12 Curriculum In addition to the face-to -face support that mentors can provide, new teachers can benefit from the concrete support provided by the adopted curriculum. New teachers today enter schools with various le vels of content know ledge and pedagogical training. Some have academic majors or work experience in the subjects they teach, training in how children at various ages make sense of new know ledge and skills, or extensive experience with lesson planning, but others do not. Regard less of the skills and experience they bring to their first years of teaching, effectively planning instruction is difficult work, and most new teachers need and expect curricula r support (Grossman, Thompson, & Valencia, 2001; Kauffman et al., 2002). Th e nationwide in troduction of standards-based reform, typically characteri zed by specific curriculum standards and statewide testing of students, has focused gr eater scrutiny on what teachers teach and whether students learn (Schmoker & Marzano, 1999), which may intensify new teachersÂ’ need for curricular support (Achieve, Inc., 2002) A schoolÂ’s official curriculum, defined he re simply as what and how teachers are expected to teach, is a mechanism for provid ing such support and guid ance. It is usually conveyed to teache rs through instructiona l materials that come in various shapes and sizes, including curriculum frameworks or testing information issued by the state; textbooks and teacherÂ’s guides purchased from publishers; and lesson plans or teaching units developed by teachers at the school. Research has co nsistently shown that many teachers at all levels of ex perience rely heavily on commercially published curriculum materials to plan and deli ver instruction (Goodlad, 1984; Woodward & Elliott, 1990). Because curriculum ma terials are present in most classrooms and directly address teaching and learning, they are fundamental sources of sup port and learning for teachers (Ball & Cohen, 1996). The set of curriculum resources available to new teachers thus may shape their opportunities for professional growth and learning, at least partially affecting the type of te achers they become (Gro ssman & Thompson, 2004). Teachers generally exercise considerable discretion in how they use curriculum materials (Schwille et al., 1983; Sosniak & Stodolsky, 1993). An overly rigid curriculum can reduce teachersÂ’ sense of professionalism and compromi se some of the intrinsic rewards of teaching (Johnson, 1990; Lortie, 1975; McNeil, 2000). In a recent study, new teachers cited mandated curri culum and scripted lessons as primary reasons for leaving the profession (Costig an, Crocco, & Zumwalt, 2004). Although new teachers typically expect and appreciate detailed curricu lum guidance, they also hope to adapt or modify the curriculum as they se e fit (Kauffman et al., 2002). Insufficient Curricular Guidance. In our survey study of second-year elementary school teachers in Massachuse tts, North Carolina, and Washington, we discovered that the curricular support provi ded to new teachers in both high-income and low-income schools is insufficient in all major subjects (see Table 3), although teachers in low-income schools reported receiving more curricular support in language arts than their counterparts in high-income schools. For all second-year teachers, the lack of guidance is most severe in social studies (69 percent) and science (56 percent), but also considerable in la nguage arts (32 percent) and math (20 percent). Although the numbers for math and language arts are favorable compared to
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 61 13 those for science and social studies, they ar e quite high when one considers that these two subjects are heavily emphasized in schools today. Table 3 Comparison of Second-Year Elementary School TeachersÂ’ Experiences with Curriculum in Highand Low-Income Schools in MA, NC, and WA (n=295) Teachers who reportÂ… All New Teachers New teachers in high-income schools New teachers in low-income schools Difference Â…Insufficient direction Math 20% (2.6) 20% (5.7) 20% (4.2) 0.0% (7.1) Language arts 32% (3.0) 54% (6.9) 27% (4.7) 27%** (8.4) Science 56% (3.2) 65% (6.8) 53% (5.3) 13% (8.7) Social Studies 69% (3.0) 74% (6.2) 71% (4.9) 3% (7.9) Â…Insufficient freedom Math 15% (2.3) 7% (3.5) 20% (4.3) -13%* (5.5) Language arts 16% (2.3) 10% (3.4) 20% (4.2) -10%~ (5.4) Science 5% (1.3) 2% (2.4) 5% (2.4) -3% (3.4) Social Studies 2% (0.8) 0% (0.0) 4% (2.1) -4%~ (2.1) Â…That explicitly preparing students for testing is required and monitored Math 32% (3.1) 18% (5.5) 43% (5.3) -25%** (7.7) Language arts 34% (3.1) 25% (6.3) 40% (5.2) -15%~ (8.2) Science and social studies Not regularly tested in these three states at the time of this study. All percentages are weighted estimates; standard erro rs are in parentheses. ~p<.10, *p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001 In low-income schools, 71 percent of second-year elementary school teachers report insufficient curricular guidance in social studies, 53 percent in science, 27 percent in language arts, and 20 percen t in math. Given the particular and cumulative challenges
Johnson et al. The Support Gap: New TeachersÂ’ Early Experiences 14 faced by teachers and students in low-income sc hools, the lack of sufficient curricular guidance amplifies existing pr oblems for new teachers, making their teaching and student learning even more difficult. However, it is important to note the striki ng and statistically significant difference between the proportion of ne w teachers in high-income sc hools who report that they lack curricular guidance in la nguage arts (54 percent) and those in low-income schools who report this (27 percent). One explanation fo r this disparity is that new teachers at low-income schools are more likely to repor t using textbook-based readers and more directive reading curriculum materials such as Direct Instruction and Success for All which provide specific lesso n plans, whereas new teachers at high-income schools are more likely to use Balanced Literacy or other curricula, which do not. The percentage of teachers who report using a language arts curriculum that is based on a textbook, basal reader, Success for All or Direct Instruction is 77 percent (se=4.5) in low-income schools and 60 percent (se=7.0) in high-income schools. The difference is statistically significant at the .05 level. As the following di scussion suggests, the support th at teachers in low-income schools experience as a result of having such materials may be outweighed by the demands they experience in being required to use them. Excessive Curricu lar Prescription. Rather than receiving too little curriculum guidance, some new teachers excessive curricular pr escription, especially in math and language arts, the two subjects most often tested by the st ates. Second-y ear elementary teachers in low-income report having too little freedom to determine what and how to teach in higher proportions than their counterparts in high-income schools. Table 3 shows that new teachers in lo w-income schools are nearly three times as likely to report having insufficient curricular freedom as new teachers in high-income schoolsÂ—20 percent compared to 7 percent. A similar diff erence exists for language artsÂ—20 percent in low-income schools compared to 10 perc ent in high-income sc hools. Although new teachers may be more willing th an their experienced colleagu es to accept constraints on what and how they teach, they still express an interest in retaining the ability to modify their curriculum in response to their partic ular students. Ultimately, they want their students to succeed ac ademically, and may defer to a pres criptive curriculum if they think it benefits their students. At the same time, they want their own work to be engaging and interesting, and to a llow them to exercise professional discretion (Johnson & The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, 2004; Kauf fman et al., 2002) Pressure to Teach to the Test. Mandated testing has been shown to reduce teachersÂ’ sense of professional contro l (Lutz & Maddirala, 1990; McNeil, 1986). Many educators discredit Â“teaching to the test,Â” which implies a focus on coaching students about how to correctly answer the questions on a particular type of test, rather than on learning the broader set of kn owledge and skills that is being tested. Although explicit test preparation does not n ecessarily imply Â“teaching to the test,Â” it often involves teaching test-taking skills, practicing samp le test items, and formatting classroom assessments in the bubble-form of standardiz ed testsÂ—activities that many teachers disdain. New teachers in low-income schools are more likely to report being required to explicitly prepare students for state tests an d having someone check to ensure that they do. Table 3 shows that greater than twice the percentage of second-y ear teachers in lowincome schools (43 percent) report that tes t preparation for math is required and monitored, compared to thos e in high-income schools (18 pe rcent). For language arts,
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 61 15 the percentage of teachers reporting that th ey must spend instruct ional time preparing students to take test s are 40 percent in low-income schools compared to 25 percent in high-income schools. Again, the consequences for new teache rs and their students in low-income schools are similar to those outlined above. If student test scores are improving, new teachers may be pleased with their studentsÂ’ achievemen t. However, they may soon wonder why they have devoted their days to test-taking skills when they had aspired to teach children to read great literature, crea tively solve challengin g problems, and love learning. They may be willing to do it for the sake of their studentsÂ’ short-term success, but may ultimately become frustrated and dissatisfied with the work. Conclusions and Implications Overall, the findings of these studies are consistent and provide cause for concern. They suggest that, taken togeth er, low-income schools fail to support new teachers as well as high-income schools do. Hiring is less pe rsonal, less informative, and occurs later for new teachers in low-income schools than for those in high-income schools. Fewer teachers in lo w-income schools have mentors than their counterparts in high-income schools. Those who do have mentors are less lik ely to be paired with an experienced teacher in the sa me school, grade, or subject and mentoring discussionsÂ— when they occurÂ—are less likely to focus on issues of classroom teaching. Many new teachers lack the curricular guidance they de sire, which has greater implications in lowincome schools where st udents typically need greater instructional support in order to succeed in all subje cts. New teachers in low-income schools are more likely than teachers in high-income schools to find that the curri culum they do have is too prescriptive and requires them to spen d scarce instructional time on test preparation activities. Combined, these conditions of teaching in low-income schools are likely to compromise new teachersÂ’ satisfaction with their work and their schools and limit their success with students. Given th at the supports for new teachers are far from ideal even in high-income schools, we sh ould not be surprised to find that turnover rates in lowincome schools are alarmingly high (Ingersoll, 2001). Research also shows elevated turnover at schools with high minority enrollment (Hanushek et al., 2004). While this analysis does not look at scho ol racial composition and new teacher support, given the high co rrelation between race and socioeconomic status, future research should investigate such relationships. We know, however, that lo w-income schools and those serving high numbers of students of color are not ne cessarily low-performing school s. High-performing schools in low-income co mmunities are deliberately organize d to support new teachers and their students (Johnson & The Projec t on the Next Generation of Teachers, 2004). Principals and teachers in these schools have developed sufficient capaci ty and deliberate strategies to hire their teachers in a timely, informatio n-rich process, to me ntor them effectively, and to provide them with sufficiently detailed curricula that also re quire the teachers to exercise professional judgment in res ponse to varied studen t needs. Although appropriate policies and adequate funding are es sential to make this possible, it is clear that these alone are not sufficient. The st ate and the district can do only so much. Ultimately, it is the principals and teachers within a school who m ust take responsibility
Johnson et al. The Support Gap: New TeachersÂ’ Early Experiences 16 for the induction of new teache rs through careful hiring, at tentive mentoring, and firstrate curriculum that encourages good teaching. State policymakers and dist rict administrators have im portant roles to play in increasing the odds that low-income schools will attract and retain strong teachers. By passing budgets and authorizing hiring during the spring rather than the late summer, politicians and school official s can ensure that the strongest teaching candidates will not be lost to high-income schools that hire earl y. School officials ca n also negotiate with teacher unions to start the hiri ng process earlier or to reduce the role that seniority plays as a criterion in staffing decisions. By upgr ading human resource offices, moving hiring decisions to the school, and of fering training in hiring practices for principals and teachers, districts can increa se the probability that schools will ac hieve a good match between their program and needs and wh at a new teacher has to offer. In response to our findings about mentor ing, a conscientious administrator of a low-income school might try to place ea ch new teacher with a mentor. Our work suggests that this strategy would be unwi se unless all the matc hes between new and experienced teachers can be go od ones, with individuals deli berately paired by subject and organized around ongoing dialogue about classroom instruction. However, guaranteeing appropriate one-to -one mentoring assignments fo r all teachers is impossible in many schools. Same-school and one-to-one matches also may be less important than providing all novices the chance to work with an experienced teacher who has the appropriate skills, experience, and commitment to a ddress relevant inst ructional topics and support the new teacherÂ’s st eady development. This migh t be done individually or with a group of new teachers Given the many challenges of working in low-income schools, teachers ultimately need to have br oad, substantive suppo rt from a range of experienced colleagues, rather than simply an assigned individual, who in the end may fail to deliver what the new teacher needs. At a minimum, new teache rs in these schools need substantive, structured, regular interactions with expert, veteran colleagues. The curricular needs of new te achers must be addressed at both the district and the school levels. New teachers deserve and ne ed to have co ncrete curricula r guidance in the form of high-quality curriculum materials for each subject they teach. In addition, they must have ongoing professional de velopment about how to work with those curricular materials. Watching expert teachers, discussing how to use the curriculum, and receiving regular coaching and feedback are essential if n ew teachers ar e to develop effective pedagogy. Clearly, pr oviding such supports calls for substantial resources, both human and financial. Whether decisions abou t curriculum and professional development are made at the district office or the scho ol, individuals making them must have the knowledge and judgment to select high-qua lity curricula and to provide effective professional development. This, of course, requires sufficient funding. Also, those who select the curriculum and monitor its use ne ed to achieve a sensible balance between accountability and autonomy fo r the new teacher. Detailed prescription about what to teach and how to teach, coupled with exce ssive reliance on tes t preparation, may generate some short-term gains on test scores but ultimately, students will not be well served. In the process, good teachers may become so demoralized that they leave the classroom, thus perpetuating the problem of shortage in the very schools where highquality teachers are most needed. It is clear that these el ements of hiring, mentoring, and curriculum are not freestanding, but rather are interdependent components of a good school. When new teachers are selected in a timely and deliberate way, they have time to build relationships
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Johnson et al. The Support Gap: New TeachersÂ’ Early Experiences 22 Zeichner, K. (1979). Teacher induction practices in the United States and Great Britain Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, Departme nt of Curriculum and Instruction. About the Authors Susan Moore Johnson Harvard Graduate School of Education Email: email@example.com Susan Moore Johnson is the Pforzheimer Profes sor of Teaching and Learning and Director of the Project on the Next Generation of Te achers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Johnson studies and teaches about teacher policy, organizational change, and administrative practice. From 1993-1999, Johns on served as Academic Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is the author of many published articles and four books: Teacher Unions in Schools (Temple University Press, 1984), Teachers at Work (Basic Books, 1990), Leading to Change: The Challeng e of the New Superintendency (Jossey-Bass, 1996), and, with the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools (Jossey-Bass, 2004) Johnson is a member of the National Academy of Education. Susan M. Kardos Brandeis University Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Susan M. Kardos is the Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Education at the Mandel Center at Brandeis University and a research affilia te of the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers. A former elementary and middle school teacher, Kardos studies education policy, new teacher induction and retenti on, professional culture and the organization of schools, school leadership, and mentoring. She is co-author of Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools (Jossey-Bass, 2004) and has published articles about new teacher support and induction, including Â“Counting on Colleagues: New Teachers Encounter the Professional Culture of Their SchoolsÂ” in Educational Administration Quarterly Kardos is also author of Â“Clandestine Sc hooling and Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto,Â” published in the Spring 2002 issue of the Harvard Educational Review David Kauffman Harvard Graduate School of Education Email: email@example.com David Kauffman is Elementary Programs Supervisor in the Austin Independent School District and an advanced doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate Sc hool of Education. A former classroom teacher, Kauffman studies curri culum, teachersÂ’ professional development, school leadership, and education policy. He has also consulted as a whole school improvement coach for a Boston public school and conducted federal education policy research in Washington, DC. He is co-author of Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools (Jossey-Bass, 2004) and other articles about new teachers and
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 61 23 curriculum, including Â“Lost at Sea: New Teachers Experiences with Curriculum and AssessmentÂ” in Teachers College Record Edward Liu Rutgers University Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Edward Liu is assistant professor of educati onal administration at Rutgers University and a research affiliate of the Project on the Generati on of Teachers. A former high school history teacher and director of a nonprofit educati onal program for low-income middle school students, Liu studies teacher hiring and reten tion, schools as organizations, leadership, and education policy. He is co-author of Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools (Jossey-Bass, 2004), as well as a number of scholarly articles on new teachersÂ’ experiences in schools. His latest article, Â“New Teachers and the Massachusetts Signing Bonus: The Limits of Inducements,Â” is forthcoming in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Liu is also a former co-chair of the Harvard Educational Review Â’s editorial board. Morgaen L. Donaldson Harvard Graduate School of Education email@example.com Morgaen Donaldson is a Research Assistant at the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers and an advanced doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has taught in a variety of settings and was a founding teacher of the Boston Arts Academy. She studies new teachers, mid-career entrants to teaching, and collegial exchange within diverse school faculties. She is co-editor of Reflections of First-Year Teachers on School Culture: Questions, Hopes, and Challenges (Jossey-Bass, 1999) and co-author of Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools (Jossey-Bass, 2004). Donaldson is an editor of the Harvard Educational Review
Johnson et al. The Support Gap: New TeachersÂ’ Early Experiences 24 Education Policy Analysis Archives http:// epaa.asu.edu Editor: Gene V Glass, Ar izona State University Production Assistant: Chris Murrell, Arizona State University General questions about ap propriateness of topics or particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, glass@ asu.edu or reach him at College of Education, Ariz ona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2411. The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: firstname.lastname@example.org. EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin David C. Berliner Arizona State University Greg Camilli Rutgers University Linda Darling-Hammond Stanford University Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Gustavo E. Fischman Arizona State Univeristy Richard Garlikov Birmingham, Alabama Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Ontario Institute of Technology Patricia Fey Jarvis Seattle, Washington Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs-Pugh Green Mountain College Les McLean University of Toronto Heinrich Mintrop University of California, Berkeley Michele Moses Arizona State University Gary Orfield Harvard University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Jay Paredes Scribner University of Missouri Michael Scriven University of Auckland Lorrie A. Shepard University of Colorado, Boulder Robert E. Stake University of IllinoisÂ—UC Kevin Welner University of Colorado, Boulder Terrence G. Wiley Arizona State University John Willinsky University of British Columbia
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